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The Future of HCP Engagement: What Lies Ahead in 2023?

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Jun 06 2022

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HCP Engagement: A Path to Digital Excellence

It is true that over the past few years, Health Care professionals’ (HCPs) experience with digital technologies has shifted due to business interaction. This increased usage of digital tools and virtual interactions has shown significant promise for the life sciences industry. The ongoing virtual transformation has also created a massive challenge for life sciences and pharmaceutical companies to engage with HCPs to educate them on treatments or programs.

In the following blog, we have provided detailed insights into HCP engagement (face-to-face & virtual) and some best practices to improve HCP engagement in the existing industrial processes.

Empowering Digital Engagement in Life Sciences

Digital engagement is crucial for the life sciences sector, like any other industry. It means utilizing updated data collected from past interactions to streamline future ones and develop a personalized customer journey. Several successful digital programs are focused on the multichannel approach to help bridge the gap.

A Brief Look at The Digital Channels

Let’s take a look at how the digital channels for health care providers operate:

Virtual Interactions

A successful digital engagement doesn't mean eliminating face-to-face and in-person interaction. Instead, it complements in-person interactions and meetings. Why? Because these interactions provide a better opportunity to increase customer satisfaction while making it more convenient for them. Overall, it extends the reach of a digital engagement strategy.

This approach drives better sales growth more effectively. It also has a significant influence on resource efficiency. For example, one global life sciences company performed a two-year test to evaluate the implications of digital channels in one of their evolving growth markets. They created a program involving three groups -

  • The first group of reps engaged with HCPs only via face-to-face interactions.
  • The second group of reps engaged via digital channels only
  • The third group used a mixed approach of face-to-face and digital interactions.

The third group secured the best results, exceeding the combined sales growth of the other two groups. The company also observed a significant cost efficiency led by the digitally enabled hybrid reps by 80%.

Rep Emails

Life sciences field reps extend their outreach with emails. With relevant and compliant content, the result is powerful. Companies need to incorporate the right type of email content that captures the right mindset and attention to generate better engagement. HCPs are looking for educational tools and mobile-friendly services to delve into. Therefore, the email content should be personalized and targeted.

The goal should be to deliver maximum value via emails. Keep the number of emails minimum to avoid your emails landing in recipients' spam boxes.

The idea is to combine all the crucial information and create a touchpoint for HCPs by keeping all the key messages in one email. For optimum results, you can break down the entire content like this:

  • General email body for every HCP
  • Personalized information or email add-ons
  • Preferences
  • Psychographic segmentation
  • Professional goals

Some other everyday use cases are:

  • New product indications
  • Scheduling face-to-face calls
  • Invitations to online or offline events
  • Sending materials as call follow-up

Virtual Meetings

Virtual engagement reinforces the existing relationships to bridge the gap while allowing ample flexibility for meaningful conversations. These meetings extend the usefulness of existing approved content. Even when compared to a face-to-face call, a virtual meeting delivers the opportunity for deeper engagement.

The relationship between HCPs and reps has been altered as most people in today’s era have started preferring to meet at the comfort of their homes, thus creating a dire need for virtual meeting tools and software. The life sciences industry companies respond to this shift in behavior by focusing on recreating the in-person experience using virtual tools.

A poll conducted by GlobalData establishes the fact that video calls are the best tools for virtual interactions between sales reps and HCPs –

Rise of Virtual Events

HCPs have embraced the idea of virtual events that offer them the flexibility to stay updated about new products and trends and to network with fellow members.

Here are some of the most popular HCP virtual events to boost engagement -

  • Digital Symposiums and Congresses - The life sciences industry is no stranger to the symposium. Still, 2022 hasn't put an end to it. Instead, webinars, virtual events, and digital experiences have become vital to a pharma company's marketing strategy. These tools pave the way for companies seamlessly run their big events online.
  • Peer-to-Peer Education and Networking - HCPs want to learn from subject matter experts and peers in their industry. However, there are limited chances for such engagement opportunities on-site. However, there is a way to facilitate networking and peer-to-peer education by initiating a digital environment to host virtual events.
  • Key Opinion Leader Events - A great Key Opinion Leader Event (KOL) can help companies position themselves as thought leaders and draw in HCPs seeking the latest information on their field. To take complete advantage of this event strategy, focus on a core topic to speak on, such as medical best practices or the latest trends in clinical research. In addition, make sure to ask your speakers to share about the event on social media to encourage HCPs to attend and drive registrations.
  • Moderation Tools - Using moderation tools as a strategy to increase HCP engagement has been in the market for quite some time now. Organizations have been using central moderator dashboards to communicate with all stakeholders. Moreover, stakeholders also make use of this dashboard to check the progress of queries and to communicate with each other effectively by sending private messages and reviewing the prompt responses
  • Resource Centers - Life sciences organizations make use of centralized resource centers like digital libraries and repositories to manage and secure crucial records. A centralized resource center makes it easy for all stakeholders to access critical healthcare patient records easily. Moreover, these resource centers come in handy, especially in research studies, answering queries, and discussing the cases in meetings. 

A Blueprint Strategy to Target a Successful HCP Engagement

For most life sciences companies, digital engagement needs a great deal of change management. A solid digital strategy will help make sure the right processes are built, evaluated, and standardized to aid the company's scale. The pace of change will differ according to each company's modern culture, landscape, and current capabilities. Below are some of the best practices to bridge the gaps and ensure a successful outcome -

Visible, Active Sponsorship Is the Top Factor for Program Success

An active executive sponsorship is essential for digital programs as it needs further prioritization and collaboration for successful implementation. An engaged executive sponsor will –

  • Empowers the project
  • Ensures a continuous flow of communication
  • Showcases that digital is a crucial priority for the entire brand
  • Defines the values and aligns them to the brand's objective

Have A Clear Destination Before the Journey Begins

A big advantage of digital channel engagement is that it allows collecting data, evaluating the usage, and quickly modifying. However, it can be overwhelming to deal with a vast volume of data to measure to start with. To prevent any mistake, focus on these factors below:

  • Recognize the most critical KPIs (Data quality, volume, user feedback, customer engagement)
  • Have cross-channel standards
  • Have cross-department standards to ensure one approach from the company versus multiple approaches from different departments
  • Establish how to capture the insights and take the action
  • Measure, assess, and optimize

Know Where Customers Are on Their Path

Life Sciences companies that have great digital engagement have a well-developed plan for each of their customers that is personalized and considers individual's preferences. This helps create a successful engagement strategy. For every single channel, look at it from the customers' point of view. Think about certain factors such as ease of access, type of content, expected speed of response, and the particular service required. The success of any channel depends on a deep understanding of customer preferences.

Tailored Messages Delivered Via the Correct Channel

After a careful introspection of the customer journey, it is crucial to have relevant content to map each segment. Many life sciences companies have content frameworks and standards early in their process so that their team can focus on the right messaging for their specific channels and customer needs. Instead of creating new collaterals from scratch for each channel or interaction, focus on existing content and adjust them accordingly for a different type of interaction, device, or customer need.

Adopting the Ever-Evolving Digital Journey for Life Sciences

Now, more than ever, there is a crucial need for Lifesciences to redefine their customer-facing teams and commercial models. As customers have clear expectations from HCPs, it is the right time to support this shift from traditional to more flexible and personalized engagement. These best practices can help HCP engagement through several compliant and cost-effective ways to deliver significant value.

Icreon's 20-year journey involves helping life science companies bring digital innovation to the forefront. Discover more about how we help Life Sciences companies connect the dots for better customer engagement.